The Ten Duties of the King (Dasa-Raja-Dhamma)

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In yesterday’s post, I really had the people of the Middle-East in mind, and couldn’t help but consider the condition of things in North Korea, where it’s hard to believe things could get much worse, but they are.

Really, none of our countries have got it perfect. Even democracy has some inherent contradictions that are easily seen once it’s pointed out. The majority is meant to look out for the minority, but who isn’t looking out for themselves?

Even China, with its economic growth and improved living standards has a few reasons to be nervous these days. How they will respond is the question, but I’ve read some optimistic articles on-line. Hopefully they turn out to also be realistic.

When one reads the Buddha’s Ten Duties of the King, the middle way of governing seems absolutely extreme compared to government as any of us know it. I don’t image to know such a government in the foreseeable future, but the Ten Duties might not be such a bad thing for the governments of the world to take into account. Any influence at all that they could bring would only result in less suffering for all.

The basic framework of Buddhist ethics for rulers is set out in the “Ten Duties of the King” (Dasa-Raja-Dhamma):

1. Dana — liberality, generosity, charity.  The ruler should not have craving and attachment for wealth and property, but should give it away for the welfare of the people.

2. Sila — a high and moral character.  He should never destroy life, cheat, steal and exploit others, commit adultery, utter falsehood, or take intoxicating drinks.

3. Pariccaga — sacrificing everything for the good of the people.  He must be prepared to give up all personal comfort, name and fame, and even his life, in the interest of the people.

4. Ajjava — honesty and integrity.  He must be free from fear and favour in the discharge of his duties, must be sincere in his intentions, and must not deceive the public.

5. Maddava — kindness and gentleness.  He must possess a genial temperament.

6. Tapa — austerity of habits.  He must lead a simple life, and should not indulge in a life of luxury.  He must have self-control.

7.  Akkodha — freedom from envy, ill-will, enmity.  He should bear no grudge against anybody.

8.  Avihimsa — non-violence, which means not only that he should harm nobody, but that he should try to promote peace by avoiding and preventing war, and everything which involves violence and destruction of life.

9. Khanti — patience, forbearance, tolerance, understanding.  He must be able to bear hardships, difficulties and insults without losing his temper.

10. Avirodha — non-opposition, non-obstruction, that is to say that he should not oppose the will of the people, should not obstruct any measures that are conducive to the welfare of the people. In other words he should rule in harmony with his people.

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